Sunday, November 7, 2010

When an 'Open' Adoption Closes: Help from an adoptive mother

Lorraine
What would you say to adoptive parents if you were asking them to live up to their open adoption agreement? How would you phrase the words? Most parents who do not live up to open-adoption are probably not going to listen to any entreaty from YOU--the scary birth mother of their child--but what if they received a letter from another adoptive parent, one involved in an open adoption. Dear Reader, such people do exist. I have even heard from adoptive parents who wish the first mother of their child would stay involved, but they have not. However that is not the norm.

The following letter was written by an adoptive mother from the state that knows about CLOSED adoptions, Texas.
But she gives me heart and hope, because there are many adoptive parents who understand a birth mother's pain and do not wish us dead or a missing person.

Dear  ____________
I would like to introduce myself, my name is Daria Williams and I am an adoptive mom from Texas. I am a friend of _____-- your child's  biological mother.

I came to know her from an adoption support group on a website called Cafemom. We developed a friendship that is now about three years old. She is also my friend on Facebook and although we have not met in "real" life, I know her to be a very wonderful and caring person.

She has helped me with some of my adoption issues and I hope that I have helped her with some of hers. During all this, we shared many things and have gotten to know each other on a level that is probably better than that of some people I know in person.

She did not ask me to write this letter to you. I offered because I have hopes that if you hear from another adoptive parent, you might consider opening up your adoption relationship with _____.

Obviously due to the geographical distance between your two families, _____ realizes that visiting with ______ is not something that can be arranged too easily, but she would just love to be able to receive letters about _______ and pictures, etc. I know it would thrill her to open up the communications between you all.

An open adoption can be a frightening thing at first so even though I don't know you, I can guess at how you might feel. You might wonder if your child will love you any differently, will they be confused?

From my own experience I can tell you that this has not been the case. I have three sons, my middle son is adopted. He will be six next March. He has had his biological family in his life from the very beginning. When he was three or so we began to explain who his biological mother was in very basic, age appropriate terms. He knows he grew in her tummy. He knows she was not able to parent him at that point in her life.

We see her every three months or so. He has a relationship with her that I would probably compare to that of an aunt. He still most certainly views me as "Mommy" and my husband as "Daddy". :)

I hope you have read this far. I know it must be odd to get a letter from a stranger. I just care about _____ so much and wanted to help if I could.

_____ does not want to intrude on your lives or upset or confuse ______. She would just cherish being able to see and/or receive pictures on a regular basis and know how _____ is doing.  And maybe someday when everyone is comfortable, you could all meet.

I truly believe that our children will love us all the more for answering all questions and removing the unknown in their adoptions. I don't know how much you have read about adoptee issues, but it is a great comfort to know who you look like, who you get your talents from and to know above all that you were and are loved by the people who created you.

You might feel uncomfortable calling me, but in case you would like to talk, my phone numbers are: Cell _________ and Home ________. We live in Bandera, Texas about an hour from San Antonio. Under normal circumstances I would not give out my numbers or personal information to strangers. I hope it conveys to you how strongly I feel about ________ that I am giving you these. :)

Thank you for reading this and I hope to hear from you either by email or a phone call.

Sincerely,
Daria Williams
________________
What happened? The adoptive father of the child contacted a lawyer. Daria wrote back:

Subject: RE: On behalf of _________
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010

Dear ____,

I do not understand what an attorney has to do with this?  I am merely appealing to you as a human being.  A human being who made a promise to a young woman who gifted you and your wife with a precious child.  I am confused on what harm it can do to send her pictures?  She is in Minnesota and you are in California - you have a great distance between you to act as a "buffer".  It's not as if she would show up on your doorstep even if she lived close enough to do that.  She does not wish to disturb your lives.  She just wishes to have pictures and updates - something you and your wife promised her.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what your kids will think of you when they grow up and find out how you deceived their biological mother?

Best regards,
Daria Williams
---------------------------
During Adoption BEWAREness Month, let us all who read this remember this started out as a promised "open adoption." I know they exist--Daria has one--but the unofficial number of how many close--inadvertently disclosed by a Bethany CHRISTIAN SERVICES social worker--was eighty percent. How do those people live with themselves? What do they tell themselves when they are in church on Sunday singing hymns?

I wish there was some good news to add here, but there isn't. As I am working now with people outside the world of adoption reform, I hear that open adoptions are the norm in some places, such as California. But here is one in that supposedly liberal state that ended up closed.

44 comments :

  1. When they are in church singing their hymns on Sunday morning they are not thinking of anyone but themselves. Not the mother they decieved, not her parents who lost their grandchild, not the uncle who lost his nephew, not the little brother who lost his big brother. Not the father who will never know his son. They are only thinking of themselves.

    Why? Because they are so deluded they think their god took a child from his mother and gave it to them, who were SO much more entitled and deserving . They are so deluded that they think that their god allowed the suffering of one woman so another could gain. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT HER. That is the conclusion I have drawn after living my own "supposed open adoption that closed" hell on earth. My son doesn't care either. All he cares about are his "saviors", you know, the selfish, con artist liars who stold him with lies and false promises.

    There are no words to describe the disdain I feel for people who do this. Open adoption will be exposed in the coming years for what it truly is... a CON.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice that Daria got involved...but honestly before I even read the 'conclusion'...I knew the other APs were still going to keep that door...shut tightly, no surprise there. As Stephanie stated...Open Adoption is nothing but a "Con" ..a con game. Get the goods, by any means necessary to include lies and false promises.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Normally I strongly agree with the viewpoints expressed at FMF. However, on the issue of open adoption I do have some hesitations. As an adoptee I do not see that open adoption has that many advantages to me. It might be good to know who my fparents are rather than having phantom figures in my head. However, having my fmother visit and not being raised by her still sounds very painful. Children do not understand concepts like "I was too young to parent" or "I didn't have enough money". They would still see this arrangement as abandonment and rejection. Also, it would be painful to see that all of my friends are raised by their bio-parents and mine just "visit". And what happens if one of the families moves away and the child loses contact with the first mother? What if the first mother has another child that she keeps? There seems to be a lot of potential for the child to feel that s/he doesn't have any sense of family at all.

    As an adoptee, I would have preferred to be only a member of my afamily until age 18. This would haven given me a sense of more security and stability rather than the conflicting loyalties that I think open adoption could create.

    Open Adoption sounds like another social experiment that would be of more benefit to the first mother than the child.

    There is an excellent essay about this at www.keepyourbaby.com under, What Adoptees say about adoption , "The Open Adoption experiment by Pink Bubble.

    ReplyDelete
  4. All I can say is that as an adoptee, if I had found out my ap's had closed my open adoption when I was a child, I would cut all ties with them. Period. No if's, and's or "But WE are your REAL parents". Game. Over.

    How could I continue in a
    relationship" with people who could not honor my Mother, because they were selfish and greedy? I could not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Daria is my hero. In my opinion, there is not a better adoptive mom out there!

    Unfortunately, in my experience, she is in the minority of parents who actually work hard, struggle, and do whatever can be done to keep an adoption open.

    My son's adoption was closed by the time he turned five and to protect herself and what she did, he grew up being told by his adoptive mom that I never saw him or held him after I gave birth to him. He believed this until our reunion when he saw the pictures of us together and of him with his younger brother, taken during the last visit she ever allowed us to have.

    In so many cases, open adoption is nothing but a lie. Even those that start out great with the promised visits and pictures and letters (as my son's did) can close without warning, leaving First Mom's helpless.

    Situations like this one need to be told to women considering adoption right along with all the "happy" ones they are fed. They deserve to know all truths that are out there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It seems the majority of adoptive parents are selfish, insecure, and must control the universe as they see it.

    Many adoptive parents promise the moon in an "open adoption" but once they have the "goods" it's bye-bye b-mommie.

    As an adoptee who has never met my biological father due to secrets and government lies I can tell you the damage that is caused is irreparable. If adoptive parents insist on keeping "their" children away from their biological parents, they they truly do not have the child's best interests at heart and should never have passed a "home study". Home studies are jokes. What really needs to happen is full psychological exams and background checks. Too many f'd up people are adopting simply because they have the money to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Lorraine for publishing this. I can only hope that someone out there who has not kept their promises will see it and re-think their situation.

    And hopefully I am forgiven for using the word "gift" in reference to my friend placing her child. I know that it is not a term that first moms or most adoptees are comfortable with. I was just trying to use a phrase that might make them feel guilty for the way they are behaving. In this particular case though that appears to be too much to hope for...

    And I want to be up front about the fact that while my son's adoption is very, very open, we have had a roller coaster relationship with his first mom. Out of respect for her privacy I will not go into details, however I will say that in the end we have always mended fences.

    I mention this because I think that a-parents expect perfection in an open adoption relationship. That's unrealistic - people are not perfect so human relationships by their very definition are going to have pitfalls.

    And I think too many times adoptive parents who participate in an open adoption use the first sign of conflict as an excuse to shut everything down.

    What I hope they would consider is that this relationship is like any other family dynamic. Do you argue with your brother or aunt or sister-in-law and then completely cut them out of your life? No you do not. You might take a break from each other and regroup but they are still your family.

    Also I would hope that adoptive parents who consider their child's adoption to be "open" are fully embracing that term. My son has his grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and great-grandparents as well as his natural parents.

    I have heard many, many times that parents are afraid the child will be "confused". What's confusing about receiving as much love from as much of your family as possible???

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's a con and a confusion.Tell me some good news about adoption?
    What sort of person sends an attorney's letter?

    ReplyDelete
  9. As an adoptive mom myself, my heart honestly breaks to hear of A-parents closing an adoption. No, I should clarify: it doesn't only break my heart, it infuriates me.

    I left an "area" yahoo group that I joined...maybe 6 weeks ago (I left after three weeks). It was an adoptive parent support group, or so it was stated. Being that is was a local group, I thought it might be nice to make a few new friends, set play dates, and what have you. I'm sure I missed out on some relationships, but I received such grief after I "introduced" myself that I unsubscribed.

    My youngest daughter's first mom (with whom we have an open adoption) knows quite a bit about us: our last names, where we work, where we live, and everything in between. She visits our daughter--and us--at our home (with members of her family) every six weeks or so. I send her emails (at least once a week) and take a photo of our daughter every day that I post to a photo-sharing site (it's public so her family--and whomever else she chooses to give the link--can view it without needing to request access). In all, this is the VERY LEAST I feel I can do.

    In turn, we know a lot about her as well: her address, her school, her family, etc. When responding to a thread in aforementioned email group entitled "how much information is too much?", I posted the aforementioned and was called "naive" and "blind to the risks".

    I have no superiority complex over other parents--first or adoptive--but I do feel confident in saying that I am neither "naive" or "blind to the risks" of such information being available. I would bet limb and life on this, in fact.

    I honestly just wish I could apologize for the whole lot of AP's who close something they have NO right to do--who make us all look like heartless, senseless, idiots who have no concept of what open adoption means or SHOULD entail. I wish I could shake some sense into those who don't realize that not only are they breaking apart their child's first mom, but also the very child they claim to love so much.

    Anyway, sorry to leave another long comment. I promise I'm not usually this long winded! Usually, that is. :)

    Courtney

    ReplyDelete
  10. People who close adoptions for no good reason often don't care about the hurt it causes.

    The people who adopted my daughter were only asked to write a letter once a year to let me know how she was doing, little bits of news you know just what a mum would want to hear. They promised to do that before she was born.

    They never kept that promise. 26 years later I am quite sure they have no guilt whatsover about this and will not admit that there was anything wrong with this.

    It's taken a lot of spiritual work for me to not hate them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for pointing this out during adoption awareness month. So many of us have lived through the discovery that we were lied to be people we (however naively) trusted. Even in states that include terms pertaining to open adoption in their legislative codes, the contact remains unenforceable. There is no consequence for people who become adoptive parents only to renege... yet agencies (crisis pregnancy counselors) continue to assure mothers that they can and will facilitate contact as a "legal" part of the adoption.

    As for living with themselves, I've seen and heard every form of rationalization and self delusion for closing open adoptions, even going as far as claiming "God" told them to.

    In the last several years, I've come to know mothers whose children grew up to dislike them having been told they(the birthmothers) had chosen to be out of contact themselves. I've known some whose children were told they posed a threat or were drug addicts, when neither was true.

    Unfortunately, these mothers are up against years of alienation seeds having been planted in the now-adult children.

    I too believe that with time open adoption (as it has been practiced since the 1980s) will be exposed as yet another means to get vulnerable mothers to part with their infants soon after birth ... or promise to even before birth.

    Please keep getting the word out!

    A.G.

    ReplyDelete
  12. As an adoptee, I would like to counter the comment stating open adoptions are only beneficial to birthmothers. 100% not true in my case and I presume, in many other cases. There is no one-size fits all way to deal with adoption but if I were giving up a baby to adoptive parents and I was promised an open adoption, I would consult an attorney or legal aid guild before signing any papers. The adoptive parents' lawyer is not looking out for YOUR best interests. They only represent their client's interests. Period.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I would like to see as few adoptions as possible. With the 80% of open adoptions that later close it does look like this is just another ploy to get young, vulnerable women to surrender their children. As anonymous said

    "I too believe that with time open adoption (as it has been practiced since the 1980s) will be exposed as yet another means to get vulnerable mothers to part with their infants soon after birth ... or promise to even before birth."

    And this is another reason adoptions should be kept to a minimum. As Anonymous said

    "Too many f'd up people are adopting simply because they have the money to do so." Money is defintely the main criteria for being able to adopt. I have know of aparents who are alcoholics, have a mental illness and others that hate children.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about open adoption, like Robin. I think it's really important for adoptees to know who their first families are, and to have access to them.

    That said, I read all kinds of first parent blogs related to open adoption that say such triggering things (at least triggering to me). "I worry that my [kept] child will feel abandoned when I spend time alone with my placed child." Excuse me? Do they not think that the placed child feels abandoned EVERY DAY in favor of the kept child? And in terms of first parents' situations changing, and other kids being kept: I guess it just sucks for the adoptee to have been born at the wrong time to someone who couldn't or didn't want to raise kids. Or to be in an "open" adoption in which the placed child is kept a secret from everyone in the first family AND from the fmom's future partners. That's NOT an open adoption, IMO, and the adoptee pays the price, again and again.

    I suppose open adoption brings with it another whole can of not-so-tasty worms.

    I do think that adoptees have a right to know where they come from, but I have been frankly horrified by some first mothers I've read who make open adoption all about them and their kept children, with the adopted child being treated like a burden. Do they not see that their child will feel their indifference and impatience?

    I absolutely blame adoptive parents who close adoptions and keep secrets, but I think in some of the cases I've read, if I were the adoptive parent I would be very tempted to close the adoption myself to protect my child from such horrid narcissism. They're damned if they do, damned if they don't, kind of like the adoptees.

    Yuck. Yes, I am totally with Robin in wanting to see fewer adoptions so we have fewer unsavory situations like this, with adoptees bearing the brunt of adult ridiculousness.

    ReplyDelete
  15. @ Anonymous-

    "but if I were giving up a baby to adoptive parents and I was promised an open adoption, I would consult an attorney or legal aid guild before signing any papers. The adoptive parents' lawyer is not looking out for YOUR best interests. They only represent their client's interests. Period."

    It doesn't matter if a first Mom has her own attorney, because open adoptions simply are NOT enforceable. I think the only thing it (an signed open adoption agreement) would be good for is to show the adoptee when they are older- proof of their adopter's lies and greed.

    "Open adoption" is a tool used by brokers and paps to get a woman to surrender. THEY know they are not legal, and they know when they close the adoption, there is nothing a first parent can do. Even if the contract is signed in blood, it does not matter.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "but I think in some of the cases I've read, if I were the adoptive parent I would be very tempted to close the adoption myself to protect my child from such horrid narcissism."

    Excuse me? Protect THEIR child? When an adoptive parent promises someone an open adoption, knowing damn well that they never intended to live up to their promises, it is blatant fraud and it is devastating for the mother who gets thrown to the wolves.

    How many first mothers would love to go back and get their children back due to the HORRID narcissism of the adoptive parents; who reneg on promises after they get what they want, the flesh and blood of someone else.

    Perhaps you are being just a tad bit judgemental when you are reading first parent blogs. Sure sounds that way to me.

    ReplyDelete
  17. stephanie, i couldnt have felt or said it better myself...that exact thing happened to me, not only that, the "christian" bible thumpers walked away smirking; they thot ; and still think its funny , and irrelevant!!!

    lindy

    ReplyDelete
  18. Daria seems like a very nice person.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "How could I continue in a
    relationship" with people who could not honor my Mother, because they were selfish and greedy? I could not."

    Thank you for writing this Linda. It really hurts me that my daughter thinks it's ok that her parents did this to us. I feel really betrayed by her not having any empathy about how it made me feel.

    Of course it's not her responsibility to have empathy for me I understand that and don't demad it from her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim, its not your daughter that betrayed you. Its her parents that probably manipulated her into the "betrayal." I feel like my daughter is being taught that she doesn't have to be nice to me or considerate to me. Not that they are enforcing that in anyway. Just when it does come up they just completely undermine the situation and make it not a big deal. "You don't have to call/write her back, she'll understand" etc. The way they have treated me, they are subconsciously teaching her to do the same.

      Delete
  20. Thank you, Ms. Marginalia. You captured the essence of what I was trying to say. Adoption can be a very complex and painful issue for the child. And infighting between aparents and natural parents doesn't help matters. As you said the child is the one who pays the price for all these messes. When what the child really needs is security and stability.

    You might like:

    http://keepyourbaby.com/open_adoption_experiment.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. Me thinks so too, Amanda. That Daria is a very nice person. A good person.

    ReplyDelete
  22. So many sad stories, so many tears. Kim, your comment made me sad; Mrs. Marginalia I understand your anger and as all regular readers know I abhor relinquished children who are kept in the closet from the original family, as well as the future one to be also.

    Hugs to everyone posting here.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ anonymous
    "the "christian" bible thumpers walked away smirking; they thot ; and still think its funny , and irrelevant!!!"

    Oh, my son's "Christian" bible thumpers did too. They sit on their arrogant self entitlement, as if they have done nothing wrong. I look at my son's Amom's FB photo, where she HOARDS him and his whole life, and her fake, gloating smile and it absolutely sickens me.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I agree that open adoption is a social experiment for all involved, certainly for the child who has no say, but also for the mother who is (with unseemly frequency) intentionally lied to by pregnancy counselors and people who want to adopt. It would seem pretty obvious at this point that open adoption is, to a great degree, used as a lure to get a vulnerable mother to surrender. Just look at the ads and at the NCFA's Goodmother-Birthmother booklet that supplements the advertising and so-called counseling.

    In open adoption (or in any context) no child should never be a secret to anyone. That's just awful and sends a terrible message. It's sad to read that some first moms are doing this, as it's sad to read when adoptive parents demand first parents keep their "raised" children secret. Again it sends an awful message.

    I can only try to imagine how confusing it must be for an adoptee in an open adoption. It must be extremely difficult at times. That said I think at least some of the first parent blogs state how agonizing it is for them, too, especially when they were completely lied to by the people who wound up being their children's adoptive parents (and the counselors and facilitators who never had the original family's interests at heart).

    Is attempting to find a way to work around lies they didn't create narcissism? Is attempting to stay in touch their child who (in some cases) was quite literally taken through unethical tactics narcissism? I doubt most would say the scenario is beneficial to anyone.

    If an open adoption has happened, and families move, it seems then they should do all they can to stay in touch the way any extended family would for the sake of the children.

    However, IMO, preservation of the original family unit should be the first priority to begin with. Families should not be permanently separated simply due to temporary financial disadvantage or lack of support system. If we focus on that, then adoption may become what it might have once been intended to be (I don't know)... a way to find loving parents for children who do not already have them.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I really appreciate this forum as a place to discuss difficult issues.

    I agree; Daria is brave and to be commended. I wish my own amom had been more like her when I was a child. Mine's stepped up now, but it took her 41 years for her to put her issues behind mine.

    I in no way wished to imply that aparents are parents to the exclusion of fparents, and I am sorry if I did. But when it comes down to it, I do believe that many aparents love their children with all they've got, and yes, I consider myself the child of my aparents. They raised me and loved me when my fmom cast me aside and continued (actually, continues) to treat me like garbage. I don't need protecting from her now, because I can take her on myself. When I was a child, though, if she had been in my life and been as thoughtless and narcissistic and cruel as she is now, I would not have blamed my aparents for protecting me from her. I still detest that I was in a closed adoption and lost 41 years with my first family; even though my fmom has no love for me, there are other family members who are lovely.

    I know there are many cases in which first mothers are wronged by aparents, and that fmoms (mostly) love their children with all of their hearts. This is, sadly, not always the case.

    There are horrible fmoms as much as there are horrible aparents. Nastiness is inexcusable in either role.

    Lorraine, you are my hero. Seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Unless they have a VERY good reason for closing the adoption, which is unlikely, I'd guilt the hell out of them. They'd deserve it.
    I'd tell them that they are betraying the child they adopted, betraying the first mother who put her trust in them, and last but not least, they are betraying themselves and their own integrity - assuming of course they ever had any, because unfortunately it's hard not to believe closing the adoption isn't already at the back of many of these people's minds when they enter into an O.A agreement in the first place.

    I'd also tell them that by rejecting their child's mother they are rejecting a profound part of that child, and if and when (most likely when) that child finds out, they will have earned the anger and contempt they'll most likely get.

    Haigha

    ReplyDelete
  27. In doing some research for some other stuff, I came across the following information from www.childwelfare.gov about open adoption and contact agreements. (See http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/cooperative.cfm#_ftn2)

    Contrary to popular belief, there are 24 states that allow some form of enforceable postadoption contact agreement. These states inlcude Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana (for children adopted when they over age 2), Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont (stepparent adoptions only), Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. (Is anyone surprised Utah isn't one of them?)

    Needless to say, how enforceable these contact agreements are and what hoops have to be jumped through varies widely from state to state. And as usual, first mothers rarely if ever know about these legally binding contact agreements prior to placement because she has no legal representation of her own. It goes without saying that if a first mom could afford an attorney, she probably wouldn't be considering adoption for her yet unborn child. In every state, these contact agreements between the first parents and potential adoptive parents must be made *prior* to the relinquishment of the child.

    You can bet your sweet potato pie that the attorney for the PAP or adoption agency isn't going to even *pretend* to mention these legal postadoption contact agreements to "their birthmother" prior to her signing on the dotted line.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I wonder how many social workers go wink-wink when they talk about "open" adoptions to their customers who pay their salaries, people hoping to adopt.

    ReplyDelete
  29. The lies and pretence are horrific. So many young mothers are preyed upon by a system that is stacked against them. It is sick.

    It needs to be changed to help both placing mothers and their children, although I don't know how exactly this is going to happen.

    I think it's so difficult because of the vast amounts of money involved on the AP and agency side, as well as social mores that vilify single mothers who live in poverty.

    My fervent wish is that more women are given the resources to keep their children so that neither they nor their children suffer from being victims of the system.

    I am also overjoyed to see so many APs posting here like Daria, Courtney, and Andrea who are clearly respectful of the plight of children, as well as their first mothers.

    Open adoption just doesn't have to be the way it seems to be in so many cases right now: broken, abusive, and sad.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "I'd also tell them that by rejecting their child's mother they are rejecting a profound part of that child, and if and when (most likely when) that child finds out, they will have earned the anger and contempt they'll most likely get."

    Haigha that might not happen, when my daughter found out she did not do this, I was expected to accept that it was ok and she said she understood why they did this.

    If the adoptive parents diss you then you are not going to have the loyatly of you child, maybe in some extraordinary circumstances.

    @Lorraine, thank you, I appreciate your empathy in your other comment.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you Ms. Feverfew: for the list of states, but I think those "contracts" are in reality awwwfully hard to enforce. If a family moves to another state--just for fun, say Utah--and leaves no forwarding address and has an unlisted phone number...hmmm...how is that going to work? Sadly that is what happens.

    My, er, favorite story about open adoption is the editor at Consumer Reports who refuses to do television because...the first mother of his child might recognize him. True story. I do not know how "open" that adoption was supposed to be. But enough that he feels the need to hide.

    And guys, thanks for the nice comments. I get punched around every so often from the other side so it's always nice to hear from you.

    ReplyDelete
  32. "I'd also tell them that by rejecting their child's mother they are rejecting a profound part of that child, and if and when (most likely when) that child finds out, they will have earned the anger and contempt they'll most likely get."

    I'm not sure I agree w/this. Many APs still think the child is a blank slate and don't feel that the child is much of a reflection of the bmother.


    @Lorraine,
    I tremendously admire your courage in coming out as one of the first natural mothers (and in the seventies!!) and saying what a painful experience giving up your child was and that there is a profound and everlasting connection between a mother and her child. You have paved the way for so many of us, first mothers and adoptees to really be listened to and not just told there is something wrong with us. So thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Many APs still think the child is a blank slate"

    They may want to think so when it suits them, but I don't think they really believe it. I think that, in their heart of hearts they know otherwise, and that the interactions between heredity and environment are in constant flux.

    "and don't feel that the child is much of a reflection of the bmother. "

    If so, why would some, although certainly not all, a-parents be so very trepidatious about reunion?

    "Reflection" isn't be a word I'd use. It implies a mirror image, albeit in reverse.
    OTOH I do believe there is a distinct benefit to being "mirrored" by someone in whom one can recognize aspects of oneself. I can see how under good circumstances that would be a valuable affirmation of personal identity that could do a lot to ease the process of self-actualization.

    Anyway, I'm not talking about what some generic a-parent might think or feel.
    I'm stating my personal opinion as I'd express it to an a-aparent who was considering closing an open adoption without sufficient (in my opinion) reason.

    Hiagha

    ReplyDelete
  34. letterstomsfeverfew,

    I think you will find that this "enforcement" of open adoption agreements in most cases applies for practical purposes specifically to older children who are adopted from foster care, and the judge involved in the court order for the agreement must will base it on whether there is a "pre-existing relationship" that the child would benefit from. I.e. a child apprehended at age 3, with older siblings of 5 and 7 -- judges may "enforce" an agreement that the child can see siblings. Infant adoption is NOT considered a pre-existing relationship.

    Not only that, but "enforcement" can mean mediation, NOT arbitration. Mediation means a voluntary agreement. If one party says "NO" to a mediated outcome then there is nothing to enforce.

    The other possible consequence of breaking an agreement is a nominal fine.

    It is misleading to say that open adoption agreements can be enforced in this manner.

    And, no, as modern child adoption involves *complete* severance and transfer of parental right plus filiation, the natural mother is no longer recognized as legally related to the child any more than any other stranger on the street. Hence, NO rights to anything signed in an open adoption.

    Read these quotes about the reality of so-called "enforcement":

    "Being a resident of one of those 18 states (that have supposed legally enforceable Open Adoption Agreements) I can tell you that there are enough loopholes in the "open adoption" law to make it almost unenforcable. Example: Our adoption agreement with M's birthmother clearly states that if she ever brings legal action against us the contact agreement is null and void. Translation: If we decided to cut contact with her, her only legal recourse would be to file a civil suit against us. But in doing so she would be nullifying the original agreement that she signed. She might be awarded some money (though doubtful) but there would no longer be a legally binding contact agreement." - An adoptive father's post from an adoption board.


    "Biological parents in many locations are reporting that their supposedly open adoption have become closed once the decree has been signed. Adoptive parents report that attorneys have told them to promise biological parents anything because once the adoption is legalized they can do whatever they want. Some agencies are finding their adoptive parents making verbal or written agreements for future contact and then not keeping their promises. … The written adoption agreements may be solid but they are not legally binding, as determined by Oregon courts, because they have no statutory support. Yet making them legally enforceable will not necessarily solve the problem. As John Chally, Oregon attorney, pointed out in an interview, promissory notes are legally binding yet frequently broken” -- p. 266 of “Levels of Cooperation and Satisfaction in 56 Open Adoptions” by J. Etters, Child Welfare, Vol 72, (1993).

    ReplyDelete
  35. letterstomsfeverfew

    I think you will find that this "enforcement" of open adoption agreements in most cases applies for practical purposes specifically to older children who are adopted from foster care, and the judge involved in the court order for the agreement must will base it on whether there is a "pre-existing relationship" that the child would benefit from. I.e. a child apprehended at age 3, with older siblings of 5 and 7 -- judges may "enforce" an agreement that the child can see siblings. Infant adoption is NOT considered a pre-existing relationship.

    Not only that, but "enforcement" can mean mediation, NOT arbitration. Mediation means a voluntary agreement. If one party says "NO" to a mediated outcome then there is nothing to enforce.

    The other possible consequence of breaking an agreement is a nominal fine.

    It is misleading to say that open adoption agreements can be enforced in this manner.

    And, no, as modern child adoption involves *complete* severance and transfer of parental right plus filiation, the natural mother is no longer recognized as legally related to the child any more than any other stranger on the street. Hence, NO rights to anything signed in an open adoption.

    Read these quotes about the reality of so-called "enforcement":

    "Being a resident of one of those 18 states (that have supposed legally enforceable Open Adoption Agreements) I can tell you that there are enough loopholes in the "open adoption" law to make it almost unenforcable. Example: Our adoption agreement with M's birthmother clearly states that if she ever brings legal action against us the contact agreement is null and void. Translation: If we decided to cut contact with her, her only legal recourse would be to file a civil suit against us. But in doing so she would be nullifying the original agreement that she signed. She might be awarded some money (though doubtful) but there would no longer be a legally binding contact agreement." - An adoptive father's post from an adoption board.


    "Biological parents in many locations are reporting that their supposedly open adoption have become closed once the decree has been signed. Adoptive parents report that attorneys have told them to promise biological parents anything because once the adoption is legalized they can do whatever they want. Some agencies are finding their adoptive parents making verbal or written agreements for future contact and then not keeping their promises. … The written adoption agreements may be solid but they are not legally binding, as determined by Oregon courts, because they have no statutory support. Yet making them legally enforceable will not necessarily solve the problem. As John Chally, Oregon attorney, pointed out in an interview, promissory notes are legally binding yet frequently broken” -- p. 266 of “Levels of Cooperation and Satisfaction in 56 Open Adoptions” by J. Etters, Child Welfare, Vol 72, (1993).

    ReplyDelete
  36. Did anyone see the Newsweek article about the fraternal Chinese twins? The connection they felt before even being aware of each other was interesting. Biological ties are strong.

    ReplyDelete
  37. PLEASE EVERYONE, THE BLOG IS TAKING THE LONG COMMENTS THAT SEND BACK AN ERROR MESSAGE, SO NO NEED TO POST TWICE, AS WE STATE JUST ABOVE THE COMMENT SPACE. AND I BELIEVE YOU CAN ALL DELETE YOUR OWN COMMENTS SO WE ASK THAT YOU DELETE THOSE COMMENTS WHICH ARE POSTED TWICE.

    ReplyDelete
  38. And Thanks, Robin.

    It was, er, exciting to come out as a birth/first/natural mother in the mid-Seventies. I've written about some of the hairier moments in my new memoir, which I just finished and does not yet have a publisher (in case you're asking). I still give some adoptive parents the heebie-jeebies.

    Too bad.

    ReplyDelete
  39. As another "out" mother in the 70s, it was not much fun. Any time I spoke, I would shake and cry. Pretty pathetic, but I did it anyhow. Because someone had to.

    I have found that the adoptive parents I deal with in real life have changed a lot since then, much more open and accepting. Of course the internet is full of rude people and loonies of every sort, including adoptive parents, but in general I think attitudes have improved. At least people are polite and don't run in terror from a birthmother any more.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Yes Maryanne, you are right, people can be really nasty on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  41. You are right, Maryanne, in general but I've still been told some pretty bracing stuff to my face in the here and now. We are still a lot of adoptive parents' "worst nightmare."

    ReplyDelete
  42. Might I suggest any first parent considering open adoption to demand (and VERIFY!) complete identifying information of prospective adoptive parents? Name, date of birth, Social Security number, college transcript, employment history, current and previous addresses, extended family names and addresses? If the agreement is broken, it's not hard to trace people these days given data searches. Considering the extensive glossy profiles agencies charge PAPs to create to market themselves, were I considering relinquishment I would much more secure knowing exactly who I was considering allowing to raise my child.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi this is my first time reading this site, and while I don't think I quite found the type of site I was looking for, I have to thank the author of this post and everyone who has been commenting for allowing me to see a whole new side of adoption.

    I placed my son eight years ago, and I've been looking to hear the opinions and experiences of adoptees and birth moms about open adoption. My son is starting to get to the age where he is understanding things more, and last time I spoke with his AMom she told me he has been asking lots of questions about me. So even though this post didn't directly address my concerns, I did get a lot of insight, and I'd just like to thank you all for sharing your opinions and experiences. I wish you all the best!

    ReplyDelete

We welcome comments from all, and appreciate letting us know how you relate to adoption when you leave your first comment.

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish or not. We are trying to find a way to end the endless anonymous comments, which drive many of us crazy. Pick a name! Any name. Choose the NAME/URL selection. You do not need a URL. Your name does not have to be your name IRL though we appreciate those who do, and we understand due to the sensitive nature of our subject, many will prefer to use a nom de plume. Okay with us, but the endless Anons are tiresome for everyone. If you post as "anonymous" you run the risk of not being posted.

We try to be timely but we do have other lives.

For those coming here from Networked Blogs on Facebook, if it does not allow you to make a comment, click the "x" on the gray "Networked Blogs" tool bar to exit out of that frame and it should then let you comment.